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The Ideology of Silence at the Harvard Business School: Structuring Faculty’s Teaching Tasks for Moral Relativism

The Structuring of Work in Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-78635-436-5, eISBN: 978-1-78635-435-8

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 17 August 2016

Abstract

Business schools offer a unique window into the making of corporate morals since they bring together future executives at formative moments in their professional lives. This paper relies on an analysis of faculty’s teaching tasks at the Harvard Business School to better understand the making of corporate morals. More specifically, it builds on a coding of teaching notes used by faculty members to highlight the importance of silence in promoting a form of moral relativism. This moral relativism constitutes, I argue, a powerful ideology – one that primes business leaders not to vilify any moral stand. In such a context, almost anything can be labeled “moral” and few behaviors can be deemed “immoral.”

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

I am extremely grateful to Gabriel Abend, Lisa Cohen, Siobhan O’Mahony, Kelley Packalen, and Victor Seidel for their comments on previous drafts of this paper.

Citation

Anteby, M. (2016), "The Ideology of Silence at the Harvard Business School: Structuring Faculty’s Teaching Tasks for Moral Relativism", The Structuring of Work in Organizations (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 47), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 103-121. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X20160000047015

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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